H-1B Visa Holder’s Guide: Pursuing a Canadian Open Work Permit and Express Entry Simultaneously

Posted by in CIC News, on July 12, 2023


For H-1B visa holders in the United States seeking new opportunities in Canada, there is exciting news on the horizon. Starting from July 16, a new pathway known as the Canadian Open Work Permit (OWP) will be available, allowing eligible H-1B holders and their immediate family members to work in Canada for up to three years. But can H-1B visa holders pursue a Canadian Open Work Permit and Express Entry, the country’s skilled worker immigration program, at the same time? In this blog post, we explore the possibilities and benefits of navigating both avenues simultaneously.

Benefits of Applying for H-1B OWP and Express Entry:

The Canadian government aims to process work permit applications submitted outside Canada within 60 days, with shorter service standards for certain programs like the Global Talent Stream. If you are eligible and wish to pursue permanent residence, applying through the Express Entry system is a recommended approach. Express Entry manages skilled worker immigration applications, assessing candidates based on various human capital factors and assigning them Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores. Those with the highest scores have a higher chance of receiving an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

By uploading your Express Entry profile and utilizing the H-1B OWP, you can enter Canada and work towards permanent residence while residing and working in the country. Express Entry offers a service standard of processing permanent residence applications within six months, providing a clear timeline for your immigration journey.

Advantages of Applying for OWP First:

Applying for the Open Work Permit before Express Entry has its advantages. By gaining at least 12 months of eligible work experience in Canada, you can potentially earn a higher CRS score, increasing your chances of receiving an ITA for permanent residence. Moreover, with at least one year of eligible Canadian work experience, you become eligible for Express Entry’s Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program, which exempts you from demonstrating sufficient settlement funds.

Express Entry for STEM Occupations:

Canada is actively attracting skilled tech workers through its tech talent strategy. H-1B visa holders can benefit from this strategy, as they possess high human capital, such as skilled work experience, post-secondary education, and strong English language abilities. The recent introduction of category-based selection draws within Express Entry targets specific, in-demand occupations, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers. Occupations like software engineers, information systems analysts, and computer programmers consistently rank high among ITA recipients.

Exploring Other Pathways for Tech Talent:

Canada’s tech talent strategy also encompasses additional pathways, such as the International Mobility Program’s innovation stream, which aims to attract digital nomads. Improvements have been made to existing programs like the Global Talent Stream and the Start-up Visa Program. H-1B holders can also apply for nomination through the Provincial Nominee Program’s (PNP) tech stream, which strengthens non-Express Entry applications. A provincial nomination can add 600 CRS points to an Express Entry profile, virtually guaranteeing an ITA for permanent residence.


H-1B visa holders have a unique advantage in pursuing Canadian Open Work Permits and Express Entry simultaneously. By leveraging the H-1B OWP and subsequently applying for Express Entry, individuals can navigate a straightforward path to permanent residence in Canada. With the introduction of category-based selection draws for STEM occupations and other tech-focused immigration programs, the Canadian government is actively welcoming skilled tech professionals. By understanding the various pathways available and capitalizing on their high human capital, H-1B visa holders can embark on an exciting journey towards building their future in Canada.

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